Modern takes on familiar words

Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year for 2018 is "Toxic" declaring it had become a "descriptor for the year's most talked about topics" - everything from Brexit to masculinity. Runners-up included "gaslighting" meaning "the action of manipulating someone by psychological means into accepting a false depiction of reality or doubting their own sanity." The concept, usually used to describe personal relationship dynamics, is now used in a political context - namely, Donald Trump's assertions that the media are spreading "fake news", and the suggestion his administration is the sole arbiter of truth. This has led to Trump's presidency of the United States being compared to an abusive relationship. Also on the shortlist was "big dick energy". The phrase means "an attitude of understated and casual confidence". "Though the term has its roots in the perceived confidence of the well-endowed," according to the dictionary, "BDE is by no means exclusive to those with male genitalia; many women, such as Rihanna, Serena Williams and Cate Blanchett, are among those identified as having this low-key, self-assured poise."

What simple thing did you learn at an embarrassingly late age?

1. "At 33 years old I learnt, just two weeks ago, that the messy pavlova pudding is not called Eat-a-mess, but Eton Mess."

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2. "For a long time I heard on the radio about something called jelly deals. For years I imagined it was a special confection made of jelly, but I couldn't figure out what a deal was. It wasn't until I saw it written down that I made the connection. Jellied eels."

3. "Something I learned late in life, at nearly 70, is that pop music stands for popular music. I always thought it was something to do with the poppiness of the beat."

4. "A few years ago (in my late 20s) I went to my first poetry show - Poetry Idol. Who knew poetry could be so humorous? Clicking one's fingers is the way to applaud a good line without interrupting the poet and it was at that moment I realised that everyone except me uses their thumb and middle finger to click. I have been using my forefinger my entire life - and will continue to do so."

Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz